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Your priceless cup of fancy tea

DC | September 14, 2014, 02.09 am IST

A special lot of handcrafted tea from the 155-year-old Makaibari Tea Estate in Kurseong sold recently for $1,850 (around Rs 1.11 lakh) a kilo, becoming the most expensive Indian tea ever sold. Here are some of the most expensive teas in the world.

Panda Dung Tea ($70,000 per kg)

The secret behind this one of the most expensive teas in the world is the fertiliser that is used to cultivate the tea plants. Yes, you got it right! Its panda dung. It all started when An Yashi, an entrepreneur in southwest China decided to grow tea in the mountains of Ya’an in the Sichuan province using the excrement of panda bears that lived in the nearby breeding centres. Yashi claims that pandas, that eat only wild bamboo, absorb only 30 percent of their nutrients, thereby ensuring that 70 per cent of the food’s goodness passed out in their excrement. This makes the tealeaves acquire healing quality as per Yashi's claims. Premiere batches of this  tea, weighing 50 grams each, are priced at $3,500, making it one of the most expensive teas in the world.

Da Hong Pao Tea ($1.2 ml per kg)

The legend goes that a special tea cured the illness of the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor, following which, the emperor sent four big red robes to cover the only bushes that the tea came from. And that’s how it acquired the name Da Hong Pao that means “big red robe”. There are only three such bushes that exist today and the rarity is exactly what makes this tea so high priced. And if that’s not enough, only the elitest of the elite get to taste this rare luxury. While some of the tea that is harvested from those few bushes go directly to the President of China, the rest is sold at auction. In 2005, 20 grams of Da Hong Pao tea were sold at the price of 208,000 RMB (around $25,000) at that time.

The tea is said to have medicinal properties and is treated as a valued national treasure in China, offered only to high profile State guests. Some say that Mao Zedong gave 50 grams of the tea to Richard Nixon on his China visit and Nixon felt insulted at the size of the gift until someone pointed out that 50 grams represents almost half of the annual production of the tea.

Silver Tips Imperial Tea or Makaibari Tea ($1,850 per kg)

Makaibari Tea Estate was recently in the news for selling a batch of their famous Silver Tips Imperial tea for a whopping $1850 per kg (almost Rs 1.11 lakh) becoming the most expensive Indian tea. Known for its distinctive flavour and colour, Silver Tips Imperial is the most prized product of the 155-year-old tea estate that grows at an altitude of 5,000 to 8,000 feet. Harvested under full moon and interwoven with silver streaks, it’s a patented product of the estate ideally sipped at bed time to lull one to celestial slumber.

Tieguanyin Tea $3,000 per kg

Named after the Goddess of Mercy, Tieguanyin tea is perhaps the most popular tea originating from China. Like most of the rare teas, this tea also has a legend associated with it. It is said that a poor farmer named Wei, in his spare time, used to tend to the abandoned Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) temple near his village. In one of his dreams, he saw the Goddess who told him to look in the cave behind the temple. It was there that the farmer found a single tea shoot that he took home and planted in an iron pot. Thinking of it as a gift from the Goddess, once it grew into a tea bush with exceptional quality tea leaves, he gave the cuttings to his neigbours and friends. Soon the village prospered due to the popularity of the tea and thus was born this tea of “holy origin.” Now appearing in the menus of many luxury restaurants, the tea is priced at $3,000 per kg. What makes it worth every buck? Its leaves can be infused for up to seven times without losing their flavour.

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